As you pore over highly informative telematics reports – identifying examples of poor driver behaviour, late starts from home, figuring out why illogical journey plans happened, or wondering why two vehicles seem to be in the same street at the same time – did you stop to wonder if those journeys should have ever been made in the first place? As nice as it would be to save up to 20% of the cost of a journey, could you have saved 100% by planning things a bit better?
The need to measure plan execution is well understood and accepted. To quote process improvement expert, H James Harrington, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” But how can you easily measure execution (“What happened?”) against a work schedule (“What should have happened?”), and how good was the work schedule in the first place?
How good is the work schedule – Our ability to calculate a plan. Nowadays, we readily accept the simple calculator as an invaluable tool. While we can recite our times tables from memory quicker than it takes to tap it into a calculator, for more complicated mathematics we use a calculator so that we can save our mental energy for more important judgements and thinking.
Computing routing and scheduling problems are infinitely more complex calculations. Our memory cannot hold all possible point-to-point travel times and take account of all real-time delays. Therefore, when we attempt to make route calculations, we start with bad data in the first place; then we add customer appointment times for reactive work, time windows for routine work, engineer skills matching, road closures, working hours, and health and safety considerations. It is no wonder that the answer we end up with is a plan that ‘sort of works’ but is flawed in a number of ways. Actually, we just make guesses. Maybe if we are using an electronic diary, we just fill gaps in the diary and do not even consider travel time.
Since we behave this way, we end up actually planning for two vehicles to be on the same street at the same time. When we book an urgent service job, we don’t think about the routine inspection just next door which can be done now, or over the next two weeks. After all, we’d rather save it for when the final deadline is due and it can have its own special 25-mile round-trip rush job. Using our telematics solution, we end up running historic reports to see how efficiently we executed our bad plans, ensuring optimum fuel consumption was attained on the unnecessary journey. This approach may be good enough if you just want to improve your business, but if you want to outperform your rivals, a different approach is required.
A dynamic scheduling solution it can automatically adjust plans when jobs are behind schedule and alert customers automatically. An optimised decision is made each time.
At the end of the day, the solution produces meaningful reports that identify exceptions by automatically comparing optimised plans with real-time telematics data pinpointing what actually happened.
If simply improving your business is not enough; if you want to set new standards and outperform your competitors in terms of efficiency and customer service; come on over to the Field Service zone at the Service Management Expo 2014 and discover how the TomTom WEBFLEET solution can propel your business and help you become an industry leader.